Monthly Archives: October 2005

Circus @ Don Hill

Dancers (left) and Valeze’s Tiffany Randol (right) performing at "Circus: Night of the Living Dead" at Don Hill, NYC.


Waiting (photo)

National Sun-Yet Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Jewelry by Yau

My friend Yau designs gorgeous jewelry pieces.

Author Photos

Readers of this blog know that two subjects dearest to my heart are writing and photography, so it should be no surprise that I enjoy looking at photographs of writers. One of my favorite such books is Author Photo by Marion Ettlinger.  I have also been absorbing Southern Writers, a book put together by photographer David Spielman and William Starr (I knew Starr’s daughter back in high school). It was mildly surprising to see a fair number of South Carolinians profiled in the book, except that Starr has been the longtime book editor of my hometown paper in Columbia, SC.

Spielman says he wanted to "show writers ‘at home’–in their houses or neighborhoods, at signings or book festivals, and most of all, in their own work spaces pictured exactly as the authors themselves find them each time they come to take up the writing process." Spielman used a combination of available light and portable, battery operated strobes.

Who is Miss Snark?

Author Richard Lewis claims he has discovered the identity of "Miss Snark," who writes anonymously about the travail of being a literary agent. Skeptics on Zoetrope are pointing out that Miss Snark often throws out red herrings to get such would-be sleuths off her trail.

Eye (photo)

Downtown Kaohsiung, Taiwan

The Coast of Akron

Felicia Sullivan interviews Esquire fiction editor Adrienne Miller about her novel The Coast of Akron. Reviews of the novel by the Village Voice and

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents

Reporters Without Borders has released a Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents.

Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they’re tremendous tools of freedom of expression.
Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest. Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

(Thanks to Anikó Bartos for the heads up.)

Bangkok Tattoo

My review of John Burdett’s novel Bangkok Tattoo is on the Asian Review of Books web page.

When corrupt Thai police officer Sonchai first hears that one of his best prostitutes has been found with the mutilated corpse of a "John", he is not overly bothered. "Killing your customers just isn’t good for business," warns his Mom (who happens also to be the madam), but Sonchai’s boss Police Colonel Vikorn has a gift for coverups. The problem is that this is not your ordinary corpse, and this is no ordinary "John". The body, they learn, has been flayed. Worse yet, the body is that of CIA agent Mitch Turner. His friends are due to come around and ask questions.

(And an essay by John Burdett at

SAP Gives SocialText Stamp of Approval

Matt Marshall, who recently reported that SocialText had raised additional funding from SAP, also quotes Ross Mayfield on why the Los Angeles Times’ experiment with (group written and edited) wikitorials failed. Mayfield is CEO of SocialText.

The public nature of the LA Times project is slightly off-point
from Mayfield’s core corporate focus. But had the Times developed the
product more prudently, allowing in a few interested users in a test
mode, perhaps behind a firewall, it could have generated a trusted
community that would have had a stake in participating and editing,
Mayfield explains. And perhaps this group of buy-in readers, once
developed, would have quickly editing out the offensive pornographic
references that eventually caused a quick backlash against the project.
And if the community failed to edit out the porn reference quickly
enough, and members of the greater readership protested, the Times
could have simply wiped its hands of responsibility, saying it was the
job of the interested community to keep up the site. It may have also
argued that the wiki should be maintained precisely because there was
an interested community that supported it. But instead, it was just the
LA Times vs. everybody else — and it died.

Jeff Nolan of SAP comments on the investment.

When I first started talking about wikis the conversation typically
started and ended on what wikis are, and quite often more than a little
skepticism that any company would want to have a tool that enabled
"anyone to edit anything". Fast forward to today and the conversation
is not preoccupied with what wikis are, it’s now about whether or not
you can build a successful business around wiki technology. To me this
shift is a good thing, it signifies that the market is maturing,
accepting the technology, and most important that Socialtext was
successful in being far enough ahead of the market swing but not too
far ahead to have people say "oh yeah, they’ve been around for a long
time". It’s funny how the Valley works…